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Multilayers that comprise thin films of heavy metals and ferromagnets have been shown to host Néel-type magnetic skyrmions at room temperature. Fresnel defocus imaging in Lorentz transmission electron microscopy is a widely used technique for recording magnetic information about skyrmions. However, the visibility of Néel-type skyrmions in Fresnel defocus images is typically low, both because only a small component of their magnetic field contributes to the signal and because of the presence of diffraction contrast from the polycrystalline multilayer structure. Here, we take advantage of the out-of-plane hysteresis in such samples to record background-subtracted Fresnel defocus images. We demonstrate an improvement in magnetic signal-to-noise ratio and spatial resolution by a factor of 3 for a (Pt/Co/NiFe)×5 multilayer. We also use simulated Fresnel defocus images of Néel-type magnetic skyrmions to understand the influence of defocus on apparent skyrmion size.
A reformulated implementation of single-sideband ptychography enables analysis and display of live detector data streams in 4D scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) using the LiberTEM open-source platform. This is combined with live first moment and further virtual STEM detector analysis. Processing of both real experimental and simulated data shows the characteristics of this method when data are processed progressively, as opposed to the usual offline processing of a complete data set. In particular, the single-sideband method is compared with other techniques such as the enhanced ptychographic engine in order to ascertain its capability for structural imaging at increased specimen thickness. Qualitatively interpretable live results are obtained also if the sample is moved, or magnification is changed during the analysis. This allows live optimization of instrument as well as specimen parameters during the analysis. The methodology is especially expected to improve contrast- and dose-efficient in situ imaging of weakly scattering specimens, where fast live feedback during the experiment is required.